An online trans clinic founder exposed in a Telegraph investigation prescribed three children testosterone inappropriately, a tribunal has heard.
Dr Helen Webberley, founder of online transgender clinic GenderGP, appeared via videolink at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearing in Manchester on Tuesday.
The General Medical Council (GMC) charges against her include that she failed to provide good clinical care to three child patients before prescribing testosterone treatment and, in one case, puberty blocker treatment GnHRA, in 2016.
It is alleged she prescribed testosterone to one of the children, referred to as patient A, when it was not appropriate for use in someone of that age.
She is also alleged to have failed to obtain adequate medical histories and arrange adequate examinations before making the prescriptions.
When treating the patients she failed to adhere to professional guidelines and knew, or ought to have known, she was acting outside of the limits of her competence as a GP with a special interest in gender dysphoria, according to the charges.
Dr Webberley, from Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, Wales, is described as the “principal provider” of the GenderGP website, which the GMC said offered hormonal treatment to children without referencing the input of any accredited paediatric specialist or a safeguarding policy.
The Telegraph revealed earlier this year that GenderGP was prescribing sex change hormones to 15-year-olds in England without their parents’ involvement.
The company defended its practices and claimed that “not all parents are supportive” and that when a young patient is able to consent to their treatment “in their own right, then that treatment can be appropriate and necessary”.
GenderGP also confirmed in February that it had prescribed cross-sex hormones to children as young as 12, and puberty blockers to children as young as 10.
The charges against Dr Webberley state that the operating method of the online clinic was “motivated by efforts to avoid the regulatory framework of the United Kingdom”.
The 29 charges also include allegations she lied about being a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and “frustrated” attempts by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board to review her online prescribing practices.
Dr Webberley was fined £12,000 in 2018 by a court after being convicted of running an unlicensed trans clinic from her home in Monmouthshire.
It is understood that Dr Webberley relocated to Spain and her clinic was restarted as an international structure. This allowed the clinic to avoid regulations in England and Wales by using a loophole which makes prescriptions signed by doctors registered anywhere in the EU valid for use at British pharmacies.
Ian Stern QC, representing Dr Webberley, said she admitted charges relating to her conviction in 2018 and admitted submitting a signed witness statement to the Interim Orders Tribunal which stated she had been a member of the RCGP since 1996.
He said she did not admit any of the other charges and there was no admission in relation to an impairment to her fitness to practise.
Simon Jackson QC, representing the GMC, said Dr Webberley had set herself up as an online GP with a “special interest” in the provision of medical care to transgender patients on a private basis.
He said the tribunal was not about the approach of doctors providing puberty blockers and hormonal treatments to transgender patients but was focused on whether Dr Webberley was competent and experienced enough.
He added: “One of the issues for the tribunal to consider is not whether or not Dr Webberley regards herself as a gender specialist, but whether there are others who would regard her as having that necessary standard of expertise and training.”
Mr Jackson told the hearing the GMC did not take issue with Dr Webberley’s role as an advocate for improving treatment for transgender patients, but said she did not have the competence required for the role of “lead clinician” and should have restricted her role to the context of a multi-disciplinary team.
He added: “The GMC observe such forceful advocacy should not be permitted to influence a doctor’s prescribing practices.”
The tribunal is expected to last until October 15.